Before we talk about my hair type,let me get this quote from Americanah out of the way,it sets the stage for what I consider is a travesty that has gone on for far too long but thankfully is almost obsolete as more women are now getting to fall in love with their hair,the way it is and without having to resort to having it relaxed .
“Relaxing your hair is like being in prison. You’re caged in. Your hair rules you. You didn’t go running with Curt today because you don’t want to sweat out this straightness. You’re always battling to make your hair do what it wasn’t meant to do.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,
When I first decided to go natural and shave off my relaxed hair,I walked into a barber shop in Nakuru ,told the barber to chop of my shoulder length hair straight hair and I looked at him as he shook his head,he could not believe it and it felt like he was willing me to change my mind.
And also 8 years ago,not very many women were walking into barber shops….willingly.
He looked at me,asked if I knew what I was doing and of course I answered that I was very clear headed , that the only thing I had that morning was tea.
He walked me,almost in slow motion to his chair,draped a gown over my shoulders, took out his shaving machine and he proceeded to shave off more of my hair than I had asked him to.
That was almost 8 years ago and since then I have relaxed my hair once ,in a moment of pure madness which I regret to date,then shaved it again….. and now..I am happy with my type 4 hair and would not want it any other way.
In that 8 year period,I have seen more women embracing the natural hair look and beauty shops in Nairobi are now stocking more natural hair products than ever before.If you walk into Super cosmetics on Mama Ngina Street it is a natural hair haven with hair products your hair will love and over the years,natural hair products have been taking up more shelf space even in supermarkets.
One of the dangers that come with having natural hair though is that you run the risk of becoming a product junkie.You go to town to buy one hair product,just one, before you know it, you have 10 products in your shopping cart.And out of the 10,your hair will be in love with just one..1!
To avoid spending money on products you do not need,it is important to know you hair type.
Thanks to growth in the hair industry we now can tell our hair types,thanks to one man whom I will call The Man.
That man is Andre Walker.
Andre Walker is a hair stylist developed a hair typing system to help us understand our natural hair ,be able to identify our hair type so that we can better take care of it.You may have seen his work as a stylist on people like Oprah Winfrey and remember that pixie hair cut Halle Berry is famous for..Andre Walker is the man behind that look.
At the beginning of this post,I included a simple chart to help you identify your hair type,a simple rule of thumb to follow is that the more tightly curled your hair is,the more delicate it is (yes its true) my hair is type 4 and this type of hair needs a lot of moisture as it tends to dry out quickly.
Once you have identified your hair type , read as much as you can on how you can take care of it and do not follow everything you see on You Tube and use what you learned to identify the best type of products that would go well with your hair.
A lot of disappointment will accompany you once you start on your natural hair care journey and your hair does not behave as well as that of You Tubers. It does not have to. Hair like your finger print is unique and will be affected by things such as the humidity of the part of the world you live in,the kind of water you wash your hair with ( soft /hard),what you eat,do you smoke ,drink alcohol, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables ?
I also have to say that a particular hair product may give very different results depending on the hair type it is used on.
In addition ,something we cannot run away from are our genes,they play a big role on the kind of curls we carry on our heads.
Now about my type 4 hair which a lot of people find difficult to maintain but which i absolutely love.This hair type contrary to popular opinion is actually very fragile as its made up of very thin strands of fine hair ,densely packed together.When this hair type is not well moisturized it tends towards a coarse texture and will easily break.
One of the best ways I would recommend of knowing what works on your hair type,especially if you are type 4 is trying out one particular product at a time,that way you get to know what works and what does not.
With time I have come to learn what my hair likes and what it does not,below I will give a simple guide on what I would recommend if you are type 4 hair,it works for most hair types as well with simple variations for those whose curl patterns are not so tight.
Washing my hair daily has always been a great way to keep it full of shine as well as moisturized and when it’s not in braids I wash it daily and even with braids I make sure i wash it at least every 2 weeks.
Sometimes, but only rarely do I ever use hair gel as I have seen that it dries out my hair too much.
If you find that spritzing your hair with water is not doing much,it is because your hair products are sitting on your hair shaft clogging it and making it hard for moisture to get through.
This is when you pre poo it and give it a good wash preferably with a clarifying shampoo.
After the hair wash,you need to keep that moisture locked in and a good way to do this is to use a hair butter or a natural oil like olive oil.I did a post on how to know if the olive oil you are buying is the real thing.
Using an oil on your hair which is part of the L.O.C method for natural hair helps to seal in moisture thus preventing moisture loss which leads to dry brittle hair.
You can follow up the oil with a hair cream that locks in the moisture in your hair and I can vouch for the Dax Roots Olive Cream ,my hair loves it.
The cream acts a sealant to the moisture you introduced in steps 1 and sealed in step 2 with oil.
Because my hair is a type 4,the above method works out very well and will also do for most hair types.If you hair is more loosely curled read on The Natural Hair Rules blog about the L.O.C.O method which works out pretty well for these other hair types.
This is where you use a Liquid.Light oil.Cream then a heavy oil like coconut or olive oil as a sealant.It would be great to confirm if any of you with finer hair have used this method and what the results were.
Back to the conversation about type 4 hair..I have found out that with hair you just need to know what works and does not work for it,for me as stated earlier,hair gels my hair does not like,it dries out , breaks and on the occassion that I have to use it, I make sure it is washed out by evening.
My hair type loves moisture and the daily wash is a must after which I apply olive or coconut oil and sometimes a cream.
I also try to avoid any heat treatments like having it blow dried and combing it out and only finger comb it during a wash or when I am applying oil to it which reduces on the breakage.This approach has helped it retain its curl pattern which when people ask what I use on my hair to be able to retain the curl pattern,I simply say I hardly ever use a comb on it.
At the moment I am in Nyasuba Locs which I had done by Onea on Hair ,what I love about them them is that they are light and that there was no need to have my hair straightened in order to have them done which is a win win for my hair and my scalp as well.I am maintaining the locs and my hair by using olive oil on my scalp every other day .I have had the locs for about 2 weeks now and I am doing a wash next week.
Do you have type 4 hair? what is your hair care regimen like ?
Would love to hear from you as well as hear on your experience with hair products.